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thorninmud's avatar

Why do you suppose that we find the transit of Venus exciting?

Asked by thorninmud (17781 points ) June 5th, 2012

In case you didn’t already know, today Venus passes between us and the sun and will be visible as a black speck on the face of the sun.

Why do we love this stuff? All kinds of people in all kinds of places will be making pinhole viewers or going to other lengths to see that black speck. It’s gotten all kinds of coverage in the popular press.

But we see Venus all the time, albeit as a white speck instead of a black one. It’s not a surprise, and we know exactly what it will look like; take any picture of the sun, grab a sharpie, make a dot, and you’ve just drawn the transit of Venus. I think you could even argue that the picture of the sun, and the dot you made on it, together represent a far greater wonder than the transit of Venus.

All that said, I’m not immune to the excitement. What is it about us that finds this stuff fascinating?

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14 Answers

gailcalled's avatar

Personally, I have always been amazed at the accuracy of the predictions. (Plus I can finally use the word “ephemerides”.)

rebbel's avatar

I think it is the knowledge of what is exactly happening, coupled with the fact that decades ago astronomers (Halley for one) used this transition to calculate distances between several heavenly bodies, plus, when you witness it with your own eyes (and scope), being part of an historical event.
I guess one should be (a bit) interested in astronomy to begin with?

marinelife's avatar

I think it is because it makes visible the workings of the universe.

Yetanotheruser's avatar

AHHH! I bumped my scope and shattered the lens!

ninjacolin's avatar

i’ve been thinking about skipping it too. but then I realized.. why do I have to debate this with myself? I don’t get it.

ninjacolin's avatar

@rebbel ya, years from now when people refer to it there’s something about being able to say: “yea, I saw that happen.”

Coloma's avatar

I think all planetary and cosmic happenings remind us, myself at least of how truly amazing and mysterious our universe really is. It is also humbling as hell, considering that our existence is a mere drop in the bucket in the evolution of our planet and the cosmos.
Gazing into space or witnessing any planetary events are reminders of how insignificant we truly are in the grand scheme of the cosmos.

Blackberry's avatar

It’s one of those things where we all know what it is: after all it is just a rock passing by, but it’s still amazing to see because it’s a planet passing by lol.

Bill1939's avatar

It is a thing of rarity and scientifically aesthetically pleasing.

ucme's avatar

This must be the royal “we” because i’m not at all interested.

deni's avatar

It’s just so interesting. The moon, stars, fellow planets, they never get any less exciting. I still can’t fathom this universe we live in and how it all works. To get a different perspective and to see any of it in a different or unusual way, it’s just breathtaking and so beautiful and amazing.

filmfann's avatar

It’s so cool that they can predict this stuff.

It’s cool to see the sun behind Venus, and realize how small we are

It’s cool because it’s like science at home!

Yetanotheruser's avatar

Well, I missed it through my scope, but I caught it here on NASA TV.

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